I added Queen cells to the three mating nucs set up on the trailer, two mating nuc at Harkins Slough queen yard and in the incubator hive at Harkins Slough.
Two of the hives I re-queeened with VSH queens from my last queen batch were rejected. In both cases it was because there were virgin queens in the hives that I was unaware of.
Swarm #15: Small 2 1/2 Frame Swarm in a Pleasant Hill Bait hive.
Swarm #16: A three Frame Swarm picked up in Watsonville hived in position T9 in a deep 5 frame nuc.
I moved two occupied bait hives from Pleasant Hill and one occupied bait hive from Concord setting them up in five frame nucs on my trailer. I de-queen them in preparations for queen cells to be added tomorrow.
Swarm #14; A very small swarm, 1 medium frame of bees was in my Harkins Slough yard when I arrived today. I don’t know where it is from but it did have a queen with it so I put it in a queen mating nuc in HS23 Location.
The Queen cell building in HS27 did not go so well. As you remember it is a hive that I have been fighting to keep from swarming by cutting queen cells weekly. Out of 40 grafts I have 6 sealed queen cells so I will not try that again. Clearly the cloak board queen rearing colony is much better for raising queen cells. I pulled 4 medium frames, two with sealed brood to make an incubator to hold the cells until the mating nucs are made up. I was afraid that the hive would swarm if I left them in the queen right hive.
I received 7 Pure Russian Queens from Tubbs Apiaries yesterday and put them into hives today. I removed the attendant bees from four and left the attendant bees in three. In all cased I left the JzBz cages capped and will watch them closely for acceptance before I either manually release them or I remove the cap to allow the bees to slowly release them.
Two of the VSH Queens that I raised and introduced into hives were rejected. one because I missed an emergency queen cell that they had raised and the other for unknown reasons. As you may recall I introduced 6 of my VSH queens reciently. Three in cages and three with the newspaper method of combining the mating nuc with the queen-less hive. All three of the hives accepted the queens from the nucs but only one of the caged queens was accepted. That is not good news if I want to continuously raise queens in the same nucs. I need to improve my methods of caged queen introduction. I don’t mind restocking mating nucs when hives are on the verge of swarming but I don’t want to do that latter in the season.
I grafted 40 queen cups from HS17 and placed them in HS27. HS27 has been building queen cells in preparation for swarming, which I had cut out on May 8th, so I did no special preparation on hive HS17 as a cell builder. We will see how this works, it may simplify the preparation of a cell building when raising only a few queens.
Hive HS18 has accepted the new VSH queen and nuc.
Hive HS16 has accepted the VSH Queen in a queen cage so I did a direct release of her in to the hive.
Hives HS1 and HS5 have accepted the VSH queens in cages so I removed the caps over the candy tube and will allow them to be release by the bees. I decided not to do direct release of them since they had only been in the hive for two days.
I re-queened two hives with VSH queens that I raised, placing them in a capped JzBz queen cages with a cap over the candy filled candy tube. I made the candy using powder sugar and just enough corn syrup to make the sugar like dough. One of the hives was already queen-less and the other I killed the queen yesterday. I had also introduced a queen in a cage the same as I did today into another hive that had been queen-less for 24 hours yesterday. I now have a total of three introductions in progress using cages and four using the newspaper method of combining the mating nuc with the queen-less hive. The will test the difference in introduction methods between the use of cages and nuc introduction. I will check the cages in two to three days to see if the bees have accepted the queens and then decide to either direct release them of remove the cap from the candy tube.
I combined the three queen-less mating nucs with three other mating nucs using the newspaper method thereby doubling the strength of the mating nucs which now have enough strength to be viable splits on their own.
I requeened 4 Hives with VSH queens that I marked on the 5th. I removed the queens from the four hives yesterday so that they would be queenless for 24 hours. I decided to try to combine the hives and the nucs containing the new queens using the newspaper method as apposed to using queen cages for queen intriduction. I have since noticed a lot of dead bees in front of one of the hives indicating a lot of fighting and I am now afraid that they may have killed the queen as well. I plan to check in no less than 4 days.
I checked the 16 mating nucs for queens today and marked all the laying queens that I found. I was told that a 75% to 80% success rate is considered good results in mating hives. Amazingly I had 15 laying queens out of 16 hives. One had a shot brood pattern the rest were good. One queen had just started to lay and some had been laying for a couple of weeks so it is good that I waited 28 days before I checked them. One nuc had raised several queen cells even though the new queen was laying well. I placed them in the one nuc that had failed to yield a queen. I will start using the queens soon and now need to decide what to do with the bees in the nucs.
I stocked the remaining 5 mating nucs with bees and placed the ripe queen cells into all 15 nucs. Since I have 20 ripe queen cells I placed 2 cells in 5 of the nucs and 1 queen cell in the remaining 10 nucs. I am cautiously optimistic and am hoping to get 10 queens from this, we will see.
Some small tragity has occured. I must have inadvertently killed my VSH breeder queen during the last grafting as the hive is now queenless and has several emergency queen cells. That means I essentially have 16 mating nucs from that 100% VSH queen that cost me $280. LAst Fall I managed to raise 4 queens from her so I only need to get 6 more from this round to break even. The VSH daughters do not necessarily make a very good production hive, of the four from last Fall only one is building into production quality, and two are on the weak side. They should probably be considered as drone producers for future queen rearing to increase the VSH genes in the overall stock. Since I am so small it is probably good that I raise the rest of this years queens from a good production hive with low mite count.
I went through all my hives and found one that was about to swarm, I pulled 6 frames from it and setup two more nucs with some queen cells from that hive. This gives me a total of 18 nucs with queen cells due to hatch this week.
I have 20 ripe queen cells due to emerge on Thursday and want to set up 15 mating nucs but it is raining! The queens will be emerging Thursday rain or shine so I may have to do it in the rain.
The rain stopped at 11:00 am so I was able to stock 10 of the nucs with bees and I will be placing a ripe queen cell in them tomorrow. The ground was too wet for me to get into one of my apiaries so I will have to set up the last 5 tomorrow in the AM and place the queen cells in the PM. I want to have the nucs queenless for several hours so they realize that they have no queen and will be more receptive to accepting the ripe queen cells.
Swarm #4: A five frame bait hive in Concord is completely full of bees, a nice swarm. I placed it in HS #4 location.
Removed cloak board from cell builder at 4:00 PM. The hive is now a cell finisher.
Swarm #3: Collected a nice 5.6 pound swarm from the cal-trans yard in Salinas. Hived it on 8 deep frames of foundation in Home position 2.